You’re all invited, so save the date and your appetite.
There is no better way to ring in a new decade than with a week-long food festival. In conjunction with California Restaurant Month, Santa Monica Restaurant Week invites the world once again to discover why it remains one of the state’s premier dining destinations.
With no less than four Michelin-star restaurants within its borders, the coastal city is home to the first neighborhood farmers’ market, which has served as a catalyst to its robust dining scene with an emphasis on farm to table preparations. Santa Monica restaurants and their chefs will prepare deliciously healthy custom dishes centered on this year’s special restaurant week ingredient – the KUMQUAT.
Simultaneously sweet and tart, the kumquat is a surprisingly versatile citrus fruit that can be eaten whole (that includes the rind). To get a preview of the tasty things to come, Santa Monica Travel & Tourism invited selected media to sample dishes at four of the participating restaurants.
– An extended stay in the land down- under stirred something in friends Ari, Shane, Andy and Tegan to recreate the intangible sensation of a tropical hideaway – remote and relaxed with a symbiotic relationship with nature. The Santa Monica incarnations is an all-day brunch café that feels worlds away from its busy Main St. location.
From its herbaceous cocktails and natural wines to each morsel of fresh food including prime aged meats, everything at Little Prince is locally and ethically sourced. The menu is varied and colorful and the ambiance is unlike anything on the block.
We started off with a little organic bubbly and got our first bite of the star ingredient, the kumquat, with Pumpkin Toast form the brick oven topped with a spread of burrata, kumquats, and pumpkin seed crumble.
Socalo “Don’t cry for us Santa Monica,” says Mary Sue Miliken and Susan Feniger. Ok, they never really said that, but the award-winning Two Hot Tamales and owners of the mucho popular Border Grill are back in Santa Monica. Located at the Gateway Hotel, Socalo is a much anticipated new innovation in Latin flavors. A combination canteen and pub, Socalo is bursting with playful pops of color and decorative accents to augment the abundance of locally-sourced flavors, including their famous Macha Salsa.
Open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, diners can enjoy quick counter service or a complete sit-down dinner inside or on the outdoor patio. For mornings, highlights include sweet or savory homemade granola and Impossible Chorizo and Potato Stuffed Empanadas. Dinner options include Lamb Birria and Grilled Steak Arrachera. A full-bar of wines, cocktails, and beers from all over Mexico with libations created by mixologist Juan Martinez.
Our preview tasting fiesta started with Oaxacan Mezcal blends followed by Salmon Poke with kumquat ponzu, serrano, cucumber, rice, fennel, and sesame seeds. We were then invited into the kitchen to try their famous Vampiro Tacos, which are possibly the best tacos in the world. We then washed it all down with Oat Milk Plantain Fritters.
Michael’s – Celebrating 40 years of premium dining, Michael’s is where guests feast, celebrate, and make memories for a lifetime. The first in the area to offer New American cuisine procured from local growers, Michael’s is keeping up with trends with an updated dinner menu, as well as a selection of bites under $15 that can be enjoyed in the ambiance of the candlelit bar with plush aubergine sofas and ottomans.
Back in the oasis of the covered garden patio with plenty of heat lamps, media munched on mouth-watering Fonduta Burgers, chopped salad, and Baja-Style Wild Yellowtail Crudo of diced inada set in an aguachile sauce of market chiles and kumquats, garnished with sliced kumquats, radishes, and cilantro.
Calabra – Finally, it was off Calabra, the rooftop watering hole at the Santa Monica Proper Hotel. A new concept in luxury, Proper is Santa Monica’s newest hotel featuring an interior decor from acclaimed design visionary Kelly Wearstler and curated original artwork and installations from Ben Medansky, Morgan Peck, Tanya Aguiniga, Len Kikiunas, and Bradley Duncan.
Calabra is an indoor/outdoor bistro and lounge which pairs Mediterranean and California cuisine from Executive Chef Kaleo Adams.
Brimming with bright flavors, our media tasting menu began with a spread of mezze with grilled Laffa Bread. The kumquats made an appearance in the Koji Fried California Quail with kumquat and Calabrian chile sweet and sour, cilantro, and mint. The banquet concluded with Olive Oil Cake and a take-home gift basket of kumquat cookies and aromatherapy products from Pure Sense by Paula.